Country Systems January 17, 2009 at 8:24 am

Which systems work well in a town tells you a lot about the place. The title of this blog was inspired by the wonder of the Italian coffee system, something that provides good, cheap coffee everywhere. In France, it’s the trains. They just work. Similarly the New York taxi model – cheap, available, often don’t know where they are going – is much better than the London one – expensive, disappear after 11 or in the rain, and do know where they are going (but will take you the long way anyway). That’s insightful.

In Cambodia, the tuk tuks are very effective, much like New York taxis. Water is on sale everywhere, reflecting a hot country with a lot of tourists from cooler places doing more exercise than they are used to. (Have you seen how steep those temple steps are?) And petrol is sold in glass bottles, every few hundred yards. You never have to worry about your tuk tuk making it to a petrol station, as the petrol vendor is always within walking distance.

This make me wonder about a variant of google maps where instead of plotting where xs are, they plot the average density of xs. Or even the difference between the density here and the average density in place of comparable population density. This isn’t quite a sharp idea, yet, but with a bit of luck you can see roughly what I’m getting at. It would be a kind of ‘what’s different about here’ plot.

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